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Vatican dismisses Filipino priest for alleged child abuse

The defrocked priest alleged his expulsion is linked to 'politics in the Church'
Pio Cultura Aclon is seen in this file image. The Vatican defrocked him from priesthood for alleged sexual abuse of minors

Pio Cultura Aclon is seen in this file image. The Vatican defrocked him from priesthood for alleged sexual abuse of minors. (Photo: Facebook)

Published: September 18, 2023 11:49 AM GMT
Updated: September 18, 2023 12:10 PM GMT

Pope Francis has dismissed Filipino Catholic priest Pio Cultura Aclon for sexual abuse involving minors, announced the Diocese of Borongan where the priest is based.

Aclon is "no longer a cleric and cannot exercise priestly ministry in the Church,” Borongan diocese said in a circular on Sept. 17.

"The laicization process of the priest underwent due process, and Aclon was given the opportunity to defend himself against the allegations of his alleged victims," diocesan chancellor Father James B. Abella told UCA News.

Aclon's last job as a priest was in the minor seminary in Borongan, diocesan sources said.

The diocesan circular about Aclon's dismissal was read out in all parish churches, chaplaincies and chapels during the Sunday Mass, diocesan officials said. 

The dioceses or the national bishops' conference did not give details of Aclon's sexual crimes.

Abella, who signed the circular, said details of abuses cannot be revealed to “protect all the parties.”

The case is not just about Aclon "but also about other parties involved, whose identity also needs to be protected,” Abella told UCA News.

He said the Vatican letter approving for removal of Alcon was received in the second week of this month.

 “All parties were heard. All parties were given a chance to defend themselves," Abella added.

Aclon, however, denied that due process was followed and alleged the diocese failed to provide him a copy of the Vatican letter, on a now-deleted post on Facebook.

“Just give me the Letter of Pope Francis. You know that, and we know it all, that sexual abuses committed by priests in the Diocese of Borongan are rampant, covered up and tolerated by the superior,” Aclon wrote on Sept. 17.

He also alleged that his defrocking was linked to “politics in the Church” because he has been a staunch defender of the controversial apparition of Mary the Mediatrix of All Grace.

Mary the Mediatrix of All Grace is linked to an alleged Marian apparition in the Archdiocese of Lipa in 1948. The Vatican refused to recognize the apparition, saying it has “no supernatural character or origin.”

Alcon’s lawyer, Delyen Madura signed and issued a legal notice on Sept. 18, demanding the Vatican letter from the diocese.

"You have violated not only our client’s canonical right but also his civil rights. Pursuant to the church’s canonical due process, the concerned cleric has to receive the notice first,” the legal notice added.

A laicized priest becomes a layperson and would have no priestly facilities. 

“If a priest is defrocked or laicized, he has no more rights to do his priestly functions in the ordained ministry. This is usually a permanent status,” canon lawyer and professor Father Totep Erestain told UCA News.

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